Fishing quotas - Scottish additional quota allocation from 2024: consultation

A consultation on how Scottish additional quota fishing opportunities is allocated from 2024.

Section 4 - Call for Evidence for Further, Future Allocation

In this section we explore options that we do not consider could be put in place for 2024 due to operational complexity. There may also be a requirement for additional consultation before these proposals could be introduced, If new/alternate allocation options come ‘online’ at a later point, the proportion of quota allocated via each allocation option will change.

Incentivised Selectivity

Between 2008-2017, the Scottish Government administered the Conservation Credits Scheme which ran under the Cod Recovery Plan, whereby a flat-rate effort allocation was made to vessels, but they could ‘buy’ additional effort by agreeing to operate gears with selectivity greater than the legal minimum. This allowed for vessels that fished with this more selective fishing gear to operate at sea for a greater period than those without.

In a similar way, quota could be allocated to vessels that adapted fishing behaviour to allow for a reduced environmental impact.

Future schemes for demersal selectivity could be linked to the outputs from the Future Catching Policy work, for example, to support a move towards greater selectivity which goes above the baseline level, or early adoption of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM). This could be developed with input from the Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (FMAC).

We envisage that the Marine Directorate would retain the total awards made centrally until the conclusion of the calendar year. Only then would those amounts be credited to the vessel’s group and cover the landings made by vessels.

This would help ensure that vessels participating in the scheme do not use the incentivised quota as a tradeable commodity and compliance with the scheme over the full year. Non-compliant vessels, or ones which drop-out of participation in the scheme would not be awarded their quota share on the grounds of non-completion.

Due to the complexity of putting such a system in place, this is not proposed for 2024. As set out above, this would tie-in with the Future Catching Policy body of work and introduced in conjunction with the FMAC group.

24. Please provide any general, or specific, comments/views you may have on utilising AQ to allow for increased selectivity in fishing operations in line with the Future Catching Policy and FMAC.

25. If you have any comments on the benefits/costs arising from such a potential scheme, please provide them.

Community Quota Schemes

In the 2020 consultation, it was suggested that quota could be given to specific communities for them to distribute and manage.

Community Quota Schemes (CQSs) could allow for the utilisation of fishing opportunities in line with local priorities, develop socio-economic benefit and allow for communities to develop opportunities for new entrants to the fleet.

Such a move would allow for local quota management that could seek to increase local governance in fisheries, widen socio-economic benefit from Scotland’s quota and allow for diversification – particularly important to Scotland’s shellfish and inshore fleets.

The primary reason that this methodology cannot be delivered in 2024 is due to (i) the potentially significant administrative and potential monetary costs associated with doing so (ii) the question of how quota management responsibility would be devolved to local groups needs consideration and (iii) no area has been identified to commence such an initiative.

Currently Scottish vessels access fishing opportunities (quota) either through a Sectoral Group (a UK recognised PO, or a Scottish Quota Management Group) or through the two Scottish non-sector pools.

Sectoral Groups are bodies recognised by a UK FA and have been devolved quota management responsibilities under the UK and the related national Quota Management Rules (QMR).

A new body managing quota on behalf of vessels would require to be recognised by the Scottish Government and may require to be incorporated into the UK QMR/ Scottish QMRs and potentially their establishment recognised by the other UK Fisheries Administrations.

It is important to note that non-sector vessels are limited by catch limits within their fishing licence. The catch limit is common to all vessels in receipt of an AU licence or an AO licence. The Scottish Government is not able to manage individual vessels’ quota within the non-sector.

It follows that any non-sector vessel seeking to access AQ through a CQS would need to either join a Sectoral group or be part of a group which has sought recognition from the Scottish Government for quota management responsibilities.

Any decision to deliver Community Quota Schemes would, most likely, require further consultation.

26. Please provide any general, or specific, comments/views you may have on the potential for using a portion of Additional Quota to manage ‘Community Quotas’.

27. If you have any comments on the benefits/costs arising from such potential schemes, please prove them.

Diversification of Fishing Opportunities

As can be seen from Option 2, the Scottish Government is setting out an option which would allow for diversification primarily for the non-sector 10 metre and under grouping – particularly diversification away from shellfish stocks.

The Scottish Government wishes to explore whether this proposal could be extended to larger or specific vessels to provide for them to fish for stocks they have not previously targeted.

We envisage that this could be done via a mechanism where fishers are invited to apply for AQ.

Such a process could take account of:

  • New entrants to the fishing industry that do not have access to established fishing opportunities.
  • Allowing for the targeting of species with fishing gear associated with a lower environmental impact.
  • Allowing for access to fish quota for species where there has been a significant increase in AQ – such as pelagic species.

The development of such an initiative would take time and need to take place in conjunction with key stakeholders. It would, of course, require to be open and transparent.

28. Please provide any general, or specific comments, in relation to allowing for diversification of fishing opportunities through inviting applications for AQ.

29. If you have any comments on the benefits/costs arising from such potential schemes, please provide them.

History of Compliance with Regulatory Requirements Relating to Fishing

The Fisheries Act 2020 sets out that a criterion that can be used to distribute fishing opportunities is one which relates to a vessel’s history of compliance with regulatory requirements relating to fishing.

This criterion could be met by restricting or withholding a vessel’s access to fishing opportunities if it breaches fishing regulations.

We wish to explore whether this option could be utilised in Scotland in relation to AQ. To the end that if the Marine Directorate determines that a vessel has not adequately complied with legislation or regulations, it could elect not to allocate AQ that this vessel would otherwise receive.

This change is not deliverable by the Marine Directorate for 2024 quotas and it will require further development.

30. Please provide your views on whether this option should, or should not, be developed by the Scottish Government.

31. Specifically, what type of fishery-related breaches should result in a vessel becoming ineligible for an allocation of Additional Quota and over what period?

Alternative suggestions

We wanted to provide an opportunity for respondents to set out alternative methods of distribution that have not been explored in this consultation document.

The Scottish Government on occasion receives requests for sea fish quota from the fishing industry and in the past we have provided additional fishing opportunity – for example, the handline mackerel fishery which we discuss in Section 2.

Most often, such requests do not take account of relevant considerations in particular: inability of fishing vessels to target identified quota stocks and lack of onshore facilities for stocks requested.

However, we would welcome any proposals for how AQ could be allocated differently to achieve the Scottish Government objectives and requirements of the Fisheries Act 2020.

32. Please provide details on any alternative suggestions for the distribution of AQ not explored in this consultation document.

33. If you have any comments on the benefits/costs arising from such potential schemes, please provide them.



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